MSF takes patent fight to parliament

The group is demanding the CIPC put stricter measures in place for the awarding of drug patents.

FILE: MSF led over 1,500 people in a march to Parliament to hand over a memorandum on Thursday afternoon. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Relief organisation Doctors Without Borders (MSF) led over 1,500 people in a march to Parliament in Cape Town to hand over a memorandum on Thursday afternoon.

Activists say the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) needs to put stricter measures in place for the awarding of patents.

If protesters succeed in changing patent laws for essential drugs, it could mean cheaper medicine prices for South Africans.

MSF says medication is much more expensive in South Africa compared to other countries and it's having fatal consequences.

They are demanding Parliament put pressure on the Department of Trade and Industry to finish its intellectual property policy paper.

MSF's Julia Hill says the policy has been delayed for six years.

"Right now, South Africans pay inflated prices for medicines because we grant patents to pharmaceutical companies too easily. They [companies] get monopoly periods for long periods of time."